The Franklin County Health Department is reporting 60 cases of flu as of Tuesday.
This is much higher than the two cases that were reported in the county this time last year, said Tony Buel, epidemiology specialist with the health department.
“It’s starting to pick up in December,” Buel said.
But he said, “It’s not an epidemic yet.”
The cases include influenza A and B, and they are being reported in all age ranges and cities in the county. The two strains have similar symptoms, Buel noted.
“Basically, I’m reminding people they still need to get out and get a flu shot if they haven’t,” Buel said, adding that the cost of a shot is $25 at the health department.
People 65 years and older and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease are especially encouraged to get vaccinated.
One hospitalization, but no deaths, have been reported due to the flu this year, he said.
Nationally, flu season typically peaks around January or February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year, there were more than 700 cases of flu in Franklin County, Buel said. Just because there are more reported flu cases so far this year, does not mean there will be more total cases for the season, Buel said. He noted that each flu season can peak at different times.
Last year, he said, Franklin County did not start seeing a lot of cases until around February.
He did not know why it may be showing up earlier this year, but he said there have been other years when it has come this early.
While he encourages frequent handwashing, he said he does think it has gotten to the point where people need to make extra efforts to avoid crowds, such as with Christmas shopping.
Most medical providers in Franklin County report their flu cases weekly, Buel said.
Some cases go unreported because the person with the flu does not go to the doctor, Buel noted.
Franklin County’s flu incident rate is similar to what is being seen across the state, he said. It appears the flu will be widespread across the state, he said.